Monday, January 15, 2018

More intellectual inroads

I saw this Tweet and thought it very good:

This is, in my opinion, a key insight. For decades, those who disliked the liberal trends within society voted for the right-wing "conservative" parties hoping that this would change things. It was a grave mistake, as the political philosophy of these parties is generally a right-liberal one. So the protest vote achieved very little - it just kept power safely within the realm of liberal politics.

Back in the 1990s it was common to hear the term "left-liberal" to describe those on the left, whilst those on the right were usually called conservatives (at least here in Australia). I began to call these so-called conservatives "right-liberals" to try to make clear how limited the political choice really was. The late Lawrence Auster was kind enough to credit me with introducing the term:
For years I have argued that neoconservatism is a variant of liberalism, specifically of right-liberalism, the belief in the equal rights and the fundamental sameness of all human individuals, based on a single universal truth embodied in a democratic world order led by America. This right-liberalism—a term first developed by Australian blogger Mark Richardson—is distinguished from left-liberalism, the belief in individual expressive and sexual freedom and substantive group equality embodied in a transnational world order led by the UN and other transnational bodies.

I think we are at the point now where the argument I was trying to make will become more widely accepted. Patrick Deneen, in his recently released book Why Liberalism Failed, makes the point forcefully and eloquently, though he uses the terms classical liberal and progressive liberal rather than right and left liberal.

The text quoted in the Tweet is from a review of Deneen's book written by Gene Callahan. He writes,
American conservatives may be cheered by the appearance of a book entitled “Why Liberalism Failed.” But, in the sense in which Deneen is using “liberalism,” most American conservatives are actually liberals. Deneen’s use is in fact the one common among political theorists, many of whom argue that America does not have a conservative and a liberal party. Rather, it has a right-liberal party, focused on free markets and free trade, and a left-liberal party, focused on social issues.

...The two liberal parties in America compete by pointing to two seemingly opposed but factually reinforcing trends. The right-liberal Republicans warn against the dominance of society by the state, while the left-liberal Democrats point to the tyranny of the market as the greatest threat to human freedom. Thus each party inspires its partisan members by fear of the threat the other party represents. But despite appearances, both parties, in fact, jointly work to expand both the state and the market.

The left is becoming a hostile place for Westerners; white men in particular have been flocking instead to the right. There is not much point, though, flocking to a right-wing politics that keeps the larger social settings in place that are dissolving Western society. To change these settings means breaking with liberalism itself. That's the change that is necessary to make a real difference and to begin to steer a different and more viable course for our society.


  1. One of the advantages that western communists used to have was that they could point to real-world examples of communism in practice. They could say that communism wasn't just a theory, in the Soviet Union it was actually working.

    The problem we have in opposing liberalism is that we can't really point to any European/white countries as examples of alternatives to liberalism in action in the real world. The only real-world alternatives are either Islamic countries, or China. So for most people the idea of rejecting liberalism is something they can't even conceive of.

    There is for example no country on earth you could point to as an example of an actual Christian nation, in the sense of a nation that is actually based on Christianity. Which may be why so few Christians genuinely oppose liberalism. The don't really believe a nation can be based on Christianity.

  2. I'm sure that I sound like a jerk, but for the life of me I can not understand how a book length treatment of Deneen's definition of "liberalism" can be of any more practical use than me knowing in theory that I can never reach the opposite wall in my bedroom by covering half the distance with each step. I will, nonetheless, after five or six quick steps, comfortably hang a picture there.
    I don't understand how such a Mandelbrot Set-like fractal voyage down into the many cross-culture, cross-discipline arbitrary and conflicting uses of continuously redefined terms, by the changing whim of each re-articulated use, gains anyone interested in resolving whatever actual confounding underlying political, social, cultural or civilizational problems, advances anyone toward a solution, or more importantly, leads a man act.
    I, ever the idiot, beat the terms "gender" and "trans..." to death, and no one seems to accept that simply never using that words - ever - outside the rare context of a grade-school grammar class, could make a difference in a fully mature movement that has officially adopted "gender" and has "assigned" the term "trans..." nearly the status of a newly evolved human species.
    Yet there they are; growing in stature and authority, while "liberal" and "conservative" flounder and flop around within increasingly unfathomable intellectual theories further out in the cosmos, increasingly beyond common understanding.
    It's turtles all the way down.

    1. Buck, I don't really get your point here. Liberalism is held in place, in part, by an illusion of choice. People are told they can vote for a left wing party or a right wing one, and there is passionate political debate between the two. What people aren't told is that both the left and the right share a similar underlying, first tier political philosophy.

      So, if you want genuine change, you somehow have to get people to see that it is no use simply supporting the right-wing party against the left-wing one. A more fundamental re-think is necessary.

      Deneen's book makes this point eloquently and persuasively. I think it will have a positive impact in moving things forward.

    2. Ten years ago I built a cigar house, my habano casa, in my back yard. I hadn't finished the soffits before a squirrel started to nest inside the roof, in the deep insulation. I could have finished the work and been done with the squirrel. Instead, I made a game of it. When I'd hear her run across the roof to her entry above the ceiling right above my chair, I'd grab my pellet gun and race out to shoot at her. My energetic fun ended when my last pellet went through my bedroom window. I laughed at myself, as I often do. I finished trimming the soffit and ordered an expensive window replacement.
      That squirrel had no idea what the crazy two-legged creature was doing. She was a squirrel. She nested elsewhere. I, on the other hand, with my (don't laugh) intellect might as well have been chasing her around my backyard with a tennis racket, for all the good that my persuasive powers had on her.

  3. I don't think our most successful actions will come via winning elections. Decades of conservative politics has never rolled back feminism, but the loosely organized MGTOW phenomenon has destabilized society via the denial of provisioning resources. The French Front National has failed via elections, but the Identitaire movement has spread across the West.

    It is important to reject the legitimacy of universal suffrage, as well as rejecting the moral framework of the left and its jargon. A good example is the continuing reference to Israel as the "Zionist Entity" by Muslim governments which has created a psychological barrier for the average Muslim to accept them as a legitimate government. In that vein, we should refuse to call someone British just because they have a British passport.

    We need to build up a parallel institution, and encourage relocation from the liberal order into it. Pax Dickinson has some ideas about this, though I'm not that familiar with them.

    1. Tim, I mostly agree with you. Parallel institutions and relocation is my preferred option too, but we don't have the numbers for this yet (though the situation is considerably better now than it was five years ago). And I wouldn't give up on electoral politics. For instance, there is no reason why a patriotic party couldn't win senate seats here in Australia. That would help a movement be less marginalised and vulnerable (i.e. you can build political leverage via electoral politics).

    2. And I wouldn't give up on electoral politics. For instance, there is no reason why a patriotic party couldn't win senate seats here in Australia.

      It depends on the electoral system. The electoral system in Australia is almost uniquely favourable to small parties. With both proportional representation and preference voting in the Senate winning Senate seats is possible if you can get 5-10% of the vote, and it's practically guaranteed if you can get 10-15%.

      In any country with proportional representation there's a chance for small parties. On the other hand in places like Britain and France electoral politics in not an option.

      The problem is that winning a handful of seats doesn't get you actual power.

      And the bigger problem is that democratic politics is inherently corrupt and smaller parties almost inevitably get corrupted. They make minor compromises to make themselves more acceptable to the voters and pretty soon you find they've compromised away all of their principles.